MEO Australia Ltd. says its studying the reserve potential and considering drilling options for its holdings in Cuba. Pool Photo by Andrew Harnik/UPI | License Photo
MELBOURNE, Aug. 15 (UPI) -- A study assessing the resource potential for parts of Cuba is progressing as planned and quickly becoming a key portfolio component, MEO Australia said.
The Australian company said it was expecting the results of an assessment from two parts of its Block 9 production sharing contract in Cuba during the fourth quarter. Work is already underway to lay the groundwork for a drilling program there.
CEO Peter Stickland said in a statement Cuba is quickly emerging as an integral part of the company's portfolio.
"Given the huge resource potential we identified in the first of the three play types on Block 9, we are looking forward to seeing the results of the assessment of the remaining two plays," he said.
According to MEO, Cuba produces about 80,000 barrels of oil per day. Estimates from the U.S. Geological Survey last year found there were about 4.6 billion barrels of crude oil and 9.8 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in the form of undiscovered, technically recoverable, reserves in Cuba. About three quarters of that is said to be located within 50 miles from shore.
MEO said it estimated that Block 9, located along the northern coast of Cuba, holds around 8 billion barrels of oil in place and has the potential to produce nearly 400 million barrels.
The U.S. government in 2014 started easing a 54-year trade embargo on Cuba and later reopened its embassy in Havana, restoring formal diplomatic ties. The same year, the Cuban government enacted legislation offering corporate tax credits to encourage foreign investments.
Cuba-focused and London-based investor Leni Gas Cuba took a 15.8 percent stake in MEO Australia in exchange for $1.4 million to support an exploration program covering 900 square miles of an oil exploration block near the coast of Cuba in February.